Charting Your Cycle: Importance And How to do it

5 min read

Written by Pradeep

Pradeep

Charting Your Cycle

Pregnancy is all a matter of chance. Some women can get pregnant easily and without much planning. Others may need a bit more work to get pregnant. For those planning to have a baby, a few steps are crucial. Charting your cycle is one of them. Every woman goes through a complete reproductive cycle starting with their period. Sometimes after a couple of weeks of the first day of the period, ovulation happens which acts as the first step to pregnancy, giving a window for the egg and sperm to meet.

For a successful pregnancy, pinpointing this ovulation window is very important. This article takes you through the different changes that take place in your body during the whole month and how you can chart your cycle the right way so that you can get successfully pregnant at the earliest.

In This Article

What is Menstruation?

Menstruation, also known as the Period, is the vaginal bleeding cycle every month. Once the body attains puberty, the women’s body prepares itself for pregnancy. When the fertilized egg does not meet the sperm, the egg degenerates. At the same time, the hormones that were at a higher level to support the impending pregnancy take a dip. As a result, the uterus lining sheds resulting in your period or what is more popularly known as aunt flo. The bleeding during the Period is partly blood and partly tissues from the uterus.

Menstruation usually begins from 11 to 14 years of age and may continue until 51 years. The vaginal bleeding continues for three to five days a month.

There are many symptoms or signs that warn women of the upcoming period. These symptoms are collectively known as premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Some of these signs include

  • Pelvic Cramps
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Bloating
  • Sore Breasts
  • Mood Swings
  • Fatigue

How Does Menstrual Cycle Work?

Menstrual Cycle

The average length of the menstrual cycle is between 28 and 29 days, which can differ from person to person. The length of a menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of the previous period to the day before you receive your current Period.

The cycle is dependent on several hormones in the human body. The hypothalamus in the brain makes the pituitary glands produce certain chemicals, and these chemicals create two sex hormones: Estrogen and Progesterone in the ovaries.

The Menstrual cycle is of four phases.

1. Menstruation

This phase begins when the egg breaks and the uterus lining sheds through the vaginal bleeding. The menstrual blood consists of blood, tissues from the uterus, and mucus. The average length of the menstruation cycle is three to five days.

2. Follicular Phase

The follicular phase begins from the first day of the menstrual cycle to the beginning of ovulation. When the hypothalamus prompts, the pituitary glands produce Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH), which helps the ovary produce five to twenty follicles to lay on the surface. Of this, only one follicle matures into an egg, and others die. This occurs once every 28 to 29 days.

3. Ovulation

Ovulation occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, two weeks before the next menstruation starts. Ovulation marks the release of the matured egg from the ovary. When the follicles develop in the follicular phase, there will be a rise in estrogen levels. Due to this, the hypothalamus releases a chemical called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This, in turn, enables the pituitary gland to produce Luteinizing hormone (LH) and FSH.

Ovulation begins with elevated levels of LH. The egg enters the fallopian tube and reaches the uterus through the hair-like projections. The egg stays in the fallopian tube for 24 hours or until it meets sperm, whichever is earlier. If it does not meet sperm, it disintegrates. It is essential to know your ovulation period if you are planning for pregnancy to know the fertile window.

4. Luteal Phase

In the ovulation phase, the matured egg bursts from its follicle and leaves the ruptured follicle on the surface of the ovary. The leftover follicle develops into a structure known as Corpus Luteum, and this structure begins to release progesterone and estrogen.

When the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, it produces the necessary hormones to maintain the Corpus Leteum. Human Chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) is one such hormone that is detected in the urine test for pregnancy.

If pregnancy does not occur, the Corpus Luteum dies around 22 days in a 28-day cycle. During this period, the progesterone levels drop, and menstruation occurs—this cycle repeats.

What Methods Are Used to Test if I am Ovulating?

Methods to test ovulation

So, now we know that the fertile window occurs during the ovulation phase. But how do you identify if you are ovulating? Let us look at some of the methods to test to check if you are ovulating.

1. Cervical Mucus Testing

The cervical mucus is one of the best indicators of the ovulation phase. The hormones that control the cervical mucus also control the menstrual cycle—the color, texture, and amount of cervical mucus change to prepare the body for pregnancy.

During ovulation, the cervix makes more mucus to support the eggs released by the ovaries. A few days before ovulation, you can find the mucus to be sticky, whitish, and cloudy. Just before you ovulate, the mucus becomes slippery.

To perform cervical mucus testing, you can use your fingers or tissue and check the opening of the vagina for mucus. You can perform this several times a day. Make sure your hands are clean before you begin the test. Note down the mucus texture to determine which menstrual cycle phase’.

2. Basal Body Temperature

The Basal Body Temperature is your body’s temperature early in the morning. During ovulation, your BBT raises slightly by less than one degree and remains higher until you get your Period. If you record the BBT every day, you will notice the minor changes that your body undergoes.

You can use a Basal Body Thermometer to check the temperature changes.

3. Ovulation Predictor Kits

An ovulation predictor kit has urine-based strips that help us determine the ovulation period, and these strips detect the LH hormones in the urine. The ovulation predictor kits are very similar to Pregnancy Test Kit and help determine if you will be ovulating soon.

To sum up, if you are planning to get pregnant, you can start off by tracking and charting your cycle. Once you get to know your ovulation window, you can take the help of tools such as ovulation predictor kits to understand your fertile window and plan your baby dance accordingly.

FAQ’s

1. What is Period Charting?

Period Charting, also known as fertility charting, helps determine the changes in your body and determine the ovulating days and fertile days.

2. Do You Count Cycle From First Day of Period or Last?

You need to count from the first day of your period until the next period’s first day.

3. What is Normal Cycle Length?

The average cycle length is 28 days. But it may vary from woman to woman based on their body conditions.

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